This week on Discover Nature, watch for spiders spinning silken webs, and “ballooning.”
Spiders have glands that produce liquid silk, and spinnerets near their abdomens weave many strands together to form a thread that is both strong and elastic.
Spiders use their silk for building webs, capturing prey, lining living- and hibernation chambers, and for constructing drag-lines and egg cases.
To travel, most spiders will climb to a high spot, elevate their abdomens and throw out silken threads. Caught by air currents, the tiny arachnids appear to fly. This behavior is known as “ballooning.”
More than 300 spider species call Missouri home, yet only two have venom that can harm people. In fact, spiders do more to help us than to hurt us.
They eat more insects than birds and bats combined, and destroy huge numbers of crop-damaging insects on agricultural land.
Take a hike to see Missouri’s vast fall colors this week, but take time, also, to notice and appreciate the delicate architecture of arachnids.
Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.